Mandsaur and Kathua: The inconvenient truths!

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Once again, the nation is reeling under shame and huge protests over the rape of a seven-year old in Mandsaur (Madhya Pradesh). The two men allegedly involved were arrested within 24 hours. The student of class 2, the child underwent multiple corrective surgeries by Indore doctors and is still in hospital, where doctors claim her to be out of danger now. The girl was found raped with slit throat and grievous injuries to her face, head and private parts on June 27 in a secluded area away from her school where she was waiting for her family to take her back home.

The heinous crime of course remind us of the little Kashmiri girl Asifa, who was gang raped and murdered in J&K’s Kathua city in early January by eight people in a Hindu temple. Although the nature of violence, brutality, assault and harassment experienced by these two minor girls remain same on the outside but the approach of the society, hence, the outcome pulls these two cases apart from each other.

The Mandsaur rape case has brought together groups that are normally seen as holding antithetical ideologies. Members from various Muslim organisations came out in full force to condemn the incident and its politicisation on communal lines. As soon as the police made the photographs of the accused public, they received nearly 1,000 calls from locals that lead to the arrests of the accused quickly. Moreover, Mukesh Kumar Patidar, the Prakhand Sanyojak of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad  alongwith other Hindu groups (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the Durga Vahini, Ram sena and Bajrang dal) consolidated as one entity to take up the cause of women’s safety in the state. The group also demanded fast tracking of justice. Rashtriya Adhyaksh of Bajrang Sena, Amit Gupta too condemned the incident and remarked that the agitation is not being done because the accused happen to be Muslims in this case. They would have reacted in the same manner if the accused were Hindu.

Moving further, Members of the Sampurna Muslim Samaj wrote a letter to the Madhya Pradesh Governor Anandiben Patel and the district collector of Mandsaur and stressed the need for fast tracking justice and stronger laws that would ensure girls and women to walk fearlessly on the streets in the days to come. Also, former chairman of Waqf board in Neemuch district Babu Salim clearly stated that the Muslims here demands the accused to be hanged as soon as possible and deny them space in any graveyard in Mandsaur or Neemuch district.

One thing is clear, the entire Hindu and Muslim samaj in Mandsaur just want justice for the little girl, and are unperturbed by the religion that accused belongs to. For them it is a crime against humanity and one should rise above religious differences.

Unfortunately, the Kathua and Unnao rape cases stands as a blatant example of the misuse of power – the greater the power, the more dangerous the abuse. It was completely politicised. Foremost, The Jammu Bar Association initially tried to prevent the filing of the charge sheet, alleging “innocent” Hindus had been accused of a crime they did not commit. In other words, The BJP government turned the Kathua issue into a communal situation. They, in fact, have supported the accused as innocent people who have been targeted as perpetrators of the crime and encouraged the agitators. The two cabinet ministers and MLAs of the ruling PDP-BJP dispensation violated Section 144 imposed by their own government to brazenly participate in rallies organised by the Hindu Ekta Manch to shield the culprits. With BJP governance at the state level and the Centre, they should be doing everything in their power to ensure that the victim gets justice, instead of impeding it. On top of that, our justice system is just riddled with lies and inconsistencies and does not seem to be adequate to handling the problems.

Rape is a crime against humanity, against society, and against women. The victim deserves justice. Justice cannot be for one alone, but must be for numerous victims and survivors whose lives have been thrown in darkness that refuses to die anytime soon.